OUR FAVORITE THINGS: 7 Things to Read, Watch, and Listen To
[Note: Welcome to Our Favorite Things, a series featuring--you guessed it!--our favorite things. From books to brands to tunes to film, these are all things we at That First Year want to shout from the rooftops about.]
In just a month, I've experienced a jumble of life. I've been promoted, I've struggled and succeeded with my writing in varying amounts, I’m still in denial as to who our country elected and fear for our future while remembering to hang onto hope, I hugged the cutest corgi in the world, and I have no idea what to say about it all.
So for now, I’d like to recommend some of the sources that have helped me through this post-graduate maze in the hopes these suggestions might help you too. Whether it be full length film to pull you out of reality, or a fascinating podcast series, these outlets may help steer you through these turbulent times.
1. Devil Wears Prada, 2006, directed by David Frankel, film.
Okay, by no means is this a film a representation of my life. I’ve never had someone yell 'You're not going to Paris!’ in my face, or been forced to find the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, but damn this is a fantastic film and once in a while I am reminded that hard days get even harder. My record is also now 10 coffee cups with no spills while walking so that’s pretty impressive.
This 2006 box-office hit starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep tells the story of a young journalist landing her first full time job in the highly respectable fashion magazine, Runway. Hathaway plays Andy, who is completely out of her element, wears lumpy blue sweaters, and finds herself struggling to keep up as an assistant to a raging bitch with a whole lot of power.
Fortunately, I do not share Andy’s struggle, though like everyone else, we have moments where we wish things were a bit easier. My co-workers are wonderful people and I feel respected, and I too sincerely hope that none of you readers are living Andy's struggle. However, this film is a great glimpse into the post graduate struggle: Hoping every day you don’t fail at something and that maybe it will put you in the right direction. Time and time again Andy questions her role at Runway, feels constantly disappointed to not be recognized for her achievements, and undergoes a rollercoaster of discovering that chaos that is this new stage of adulthood.
I recommend all post grads take an early happy hour or Sunday morning to re-watch this film. Seeing Andy's rocky transition into full time work is not only comforting but super entertaining and will make you want to shop on your lack-of-a-budget and just hate yourself later.
How Would I Rate This Film: I woke up embarrassingly hungover a few months ago and begged my boyfriend to somehow show me The Devil Wears Prada on that Saturday morning or recite the entire thing if he couldn't stream it online. Despite his confusion, he tried to search for it. So I gave up after a half hour. If that doesn't tell you how fantastic it is, I'm sure something else will.
2. Sweetbitter, 2016, written by Stephanie Danler, novel.
One day this summer, my mom came across a review about Sweetbitter in the New York Times. She cut it out and placed it in my room because of the large photo of wine in the front, so naturally...I was intrigued. I decided to purchase Sweetbitter as a hard-covered novel and read it on the train, just to make myself feel a bit more poetic. And damn, this book is phenomenal.
Sweetbitter tells the story based loosely on the author's life, and she chose to name her Tess (my name, so automatically she has done nothing wrong and we should instantly like her, right?). Promptly after her college graduation Tess moves to Williamsburg (before it was cool) and gets a job as a server at a trendy restaurant in Union Square, loosely based on the Coffee Shop, known for its unbelievably-attractive serving staff.
The novel is written beautifully, threading in chapters on wines, desserts, lust for the mysterious bartender, a scary amount of drugs, and the questioning of our daily existence. Tess struggles to carry dishes on a sweaty day down a staircase before upper class guests and falls in love at the opera and is only the ripe age of 23 years old.
I was mesmerized with each chapter, learning the perspective of a young woman who has no idea what she wants to do and found a family in a cluster of cultured and dignified strangers who party by night and sleep by day and work all remaining hours. It brought me comfort and excitement, seeing where anyone's journey may lead them in the most unexpected of ways.
How Would I Rate This Novel: I endorsed this novel on Facebook the day I finished that. Pretty sure I haven't done that since I was in 6th grade and read Gossip Girl and told every living being that I knew Serena Van Der Woodwhatever's secret. I told Facebook to read it, that’s how good this is.
3. Here's the Thing, WNYC, podcast
Alec Baldwin is the host of the WNYC podcast: "Here's the Thing" Now, here is a thing, I love Alec Baldwin, but you don't have to love him to appreciate this podcast. This roughly hour long show features Baldwin interviewing a variety of guests on a variety of topics.
Personally, I feel as though Baldwin is a fantastic interviewer. He asks engaging and sometimes bold questions to the subjects and furthermore shares his take on the issue. It sounds like two sophisticated friends having a conversation and some of it sometimes goes over your head but you’d like to be involved, so you listen. (It’s better than that but I’m running short on analogies.)
Some noteworthy episodes includes Ellie Kemper's rise to fame. You learn she studied at Princeton, did not get a role on Parks and Recreation, and is JUST as adorable as you hope she is. Viggo Mortensen is fascinating as not only an actor but an explorer of the world, as well as Jimmy Fallon and his failure during his first audition for SNL to then having the best audition of his life.
Granted, there's many more interviews with people than entertainers, but for now, these are the ones I highly recommend. Hearing these gracious and humble entertainers openly discuss their failures, confusions, triumphs, and everything else floating between. I feel inspired hearing their journeys, what they may have done differently, and what they would not have changed for the world. It's an hour on the train that suddenly becomes far more fulfilling and gratifying, a chance for you to imagine how you'll look back on these turbulent times.
How Would I Rate This Podcast: I laughed openly hearing Jimmy Fallon impersonations of celebrities advertising for troll dolls and did not even consider that it was 7 am.
5. A Buddha Walks Into a Bar, Lodro Rinzler, guidebook to Buddhism.
Now for this I have my dear friend in Los Angeles to thank, who is not only one of my best friends, but one of the few people in this world who can not only make me laugh to tears, but also share some profound and wonderful conversations with. He sent me this book to get me through a hard time and it is truly a blessing that all people should read.
Rinzler walks you through guided Buddhism in which you can still party like a rockstar and live your life however you please while having a healthier and far more mindful outlook on life. He encourages you not to freak out when your texts aren’t answered right away. Don’t let your mind wander miles out of reach. Learn to be present, and enjoy the night out with your friends and not fear the unknown months, years, whatever mystery lies ahead.
This is a fantastic read to let you feel at ease and confident in your decisions and mindset. One step closer to finding a way to bring yourself back to center. You can pick up this book, read a chapter, then revisit it during a time of tension or high anxiety. He’ll make you smile and open your mind.
How I Would Rate This Book: It has made me a calmer person. And if you know me, that is a HUGE feat. Thank you, dear friend.
6. “The Office”, NBC television series.
This is my all time favorite series in any world wherever you are this is it.
This show will make you laugh at any time of day (or maybe that’s just me) and make you smile and feel better. But also in a post graduate world, you can finally relate. You find yourself engaging in weird talks about whether or not Hilary Swank (or any other celebrity) is hot or not, realizing you will have days you dread or days you love like Pretzel Day or Movie Monday. Your co-workers might become your family and give you friendships that inspire you to come back in the morning.
After years and years of watching this show, now, as a full time member of the adult working world, I have a deeper appreciation for the universe Greg Daniels created. He cultivated a story for employees to grow with one another, evolve, and figure out their every day norms in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
A window into the beauty of simplicity, the idea that we can be welcomed into the exclusivity of inside jokes, off beat daily routines or situations, and small nuances that keep us going day to day. The struggles that Michael Scott, as an unbelievably moronic leader, reminds us that no one is perfect, by any means, even when you break down and finally get the plasma tv.
I would say to all post grads to take a chance and watch this show because you might love it and if you don’t you can say I’m wrong about something and that will be tough for me but I can take it. It helps you understand the beauty in simplicity, and that each individual right of passage will be your own; quirky and memorable, something you’re happy to have shared and experienced. And that’s how you do the Scarn.
How Would I Rate This Show: I just staked my reputation on Steve Carrell. Did I stutter?
7. “Girls” HBO, television series.
Controversial and not for everyone, but I'm talking about the series here. I have watched “Girls” from the Sunday night it premiered many moons ago. Adam Driver got very naked very quickly and I announced that I would watch the rest of the episode downstairs as to not be embarrassed watching the whole five minute long scene with my family. Since then, I have loved this show fiercely. A series of imperfect people who bring out the worst in each other, and at the same time, the most sincere and purest moments that all twenty somethings can relate to in some way or another. We don't want to admit what we don't like about ourselves, so Hannah, Marnie, Jessie, Shosh, Elijah, Adam, and Ray will do it for us.
We've seen them lose unpaid internships, be seduced by weirdo artists in a pile of old televisions, host surprise weddings, move to Japan, eat free snacks at work, fall in the pond at Central Park, and acknowledge the biggest mistakes of their lives only to do nothing about it.
I have cried and laughed. The brilliance lies in their irony, and how they fuck up time and time again and teach us more than we deserve.
I met one of my best friends from college in our freshman dorm and we have stuck by each others sides since. Once we figured out we both watched “Girls”, that was all we needed to know. We have followed these characters all the way through and shared our Mondays junior year to watch these episodes and converse about our lives over popcorn. It was cleansing and refreshing, a time to be witness to each others lives and connect like Hannah learning hip hop.
We simply cannot believe it's ending at the time we need it most. The time when we are edging over the brink of adulthood and just want to learn broadway choreography and how to make duck for a dinner party. We've shared this incredibly journey and as she watches in the Northwest and I in the Northeast, we will continue to watch our girls march into womanhood. This series might not be for everyone and I will respect that, but I suggest giving it a whirl because you might just fall in love with the originality and lack of direction that has captured me for five seasons.
How Would I Rate This Show: If I were left on an island with HBO Go and a bottle of wine I could probably figure it out for a few years (maybe with some food also and a single volleyball.)